UK's Land Digitization Program is an central
enabler for the British Army's Network Enabled Capability (NEC)
initiative. The £1.9 billion Bowman program comprises a new family of
radios, computers and C3 applications, which will establish the
communications and computing infrastructure for existing and future
forces. Bowman digital radios are replacing the aging Clansman range
of analog radios, in service since the 1970s. As a data-capable radio.
Bowman systems will support communications between headquarters,
replacing part of the Ptarmigan trunk system currently in service.
The new radios provide tactical, secure
voice communications, and data messaging and are embedded with GPS
receivers to provide location information for "Blue Force Tracking"
Bowman systems entered service in 2004 and
are expected to remain in service at least through 2026. Some 46,500
radios and 26,000 computers will be procured under the multiyear
program, fitted to 20,000 military vehicles, 156 ships and 276
The VHF elements are based on the
ITT's SINCGARS technology developed for the US military. Bowman is
also integrating the Harris HF radios Both systems are embedded with
UK specific encryption technology. Both VHF and HF radios are
supporting secured voice and data communications. VHF sets use fixed
or frequency hopping regimes, while HF supports advanced Automatic
Link Establishment (ALE) and Free Channel Search (FCS). DRS Tactical
Systems is providing four variants of its Scorpion notebook computers
for the Bowman program, including vehicle mounted and dismountable
terminals. AEA Battery Systems is supplying rechargeable li-ion
batteries and chargers for the dismountable and man-portable sets.
Bowman networks will automatically establish a "tactical Internet"
network to support IP based communications over HF, VHF and High
Capacity Radio networks. ALl communications devices will be able to
communicate over Local Area Sub System (LAS), connecting individual
vehicles fitted with the Vehicle Internal Distribution System (VIDS)
set to receipt of radio nets from designated, similarly equipped
The first increment of the current digitization program started in
2002. Designated DS1, it was fielded at Brigade headquarters level, in
support the Battle group HQ and HQ Allied Rapid Reaction Corps. The
current system encompass a battlefield management system generating
situational awareness information locally and between HQs. Another
feature is the personnel tracking application, aggregating information
gathered from personnel role radios allocated to all mounted and
dismounted combat elements operating under the battle group command.
This application is being used as the OPLOC tracking system in Kosovo,
Afghanistan and Iraq. DS1 is scheduled to transition to full Bowman
configuration by 2006. In April 2005, 12 Mechanized Brigade deployed
to Iraq with a core Bowman capability alongside some existing
capability. Another milestone for the program was in July 2005 as the
systems were fielded with the Scots Dragoon Guards battle group, taking part in
Exercise Medicine Man at the British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS).
Apart from the various radios, the program
will integrate new C4 application systems, such as the Common
Battlefield Applications Toolset (ComBAT), and
Information Systems Application (P-BISA), collectively known as CIP.
Personal Role Radio (PRR) will also integrate with the Bowman program
in its future course. One such application is the integration of
Bowman with vetronics under the Challenger 2 main battle tank
CBM(L) capability will be introduced with Bowman to
provide a core battle management system. It will enable the
battlefield information systems being developed for armored fighting
vehicles, artillery fire control, ground based air defense, to exploit
Bowman’s data messaging capability concurrently, and insure effective
interoperability issues with our allies.
Royal Netherlands Navy is buying Bowman systems worth of EUR94 million
from General Dynamics UK for the Royal Dutch Marines, under the Dutch
Integrated Marines Communications and Information System (NIMCIS).
This is the first export contract for the Bowman C4I system. The
systems are expected to be installed on tactical vehicles such as the
BAE Systems Land Systems Hägglunds BvS 10 armored all-terrain tracked
vehicles recently ordered for the forces.